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Best Famous Sensual Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Sensual poems. This is a select list of the best famous Sensual poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Sensual poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of sensual poems.

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Written by Anonymous | Create an image from this poem

Ode to Joy

Wild and fearful in his cavern
Hid the naked troglodyte,
And the homeless nomad wandered
Laying waste the fertile plain.
Menacing with spear and arrow In the woods the hunter strayed .
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Woe to all poor wreteches stranded On those cruel and hostile shores! From the peak of high Olympus Came the mother Ceres down, Seeeking in those savage regions Her lost daughter Prosperine.
But the Goddess found no refuge, Found no kindly welcome there, And no temple bearing witness To the worship of the gods.
From the fields and from the vineyards Came no fruit to deck the feasts, Only flesh of blood-stained victims Smouldered on the alter-fires, And where'er the grieving goddess Turns her melancholy gaze, Sunk in vilest degradation Man his loathsomeness displays.
Would he purge his soul from vileness And attain to light and worth, He must turn and cling forever To his ancient Mother Earth.
Joy everlasting fostereth The soul of all creation, It is her secret ferment fires The cup of life with flame.
'Tis at her beck the grass hath turned Each blade toward the light and solar systems have evolved From chaos and dark night, Filling the realms of boundless space Beyond the sage's sight.
At bounteous nature's kindly breast, All things that breath drink Joy, And bird and beasts and creaping things All follow where she leads.
Her gifts to man are friends in need, The wreath, the foaming must, To angels -- visions of God's throne, To insects -- sensual lust.


Written by John Keats | Create an image from this poem

Ode on a Grecian Urn

THOU still unravish'd bride of quietness  
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time  
Sylvan historian who canst thus express 
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape 5 
Of deities or mortals or of both  
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 10 

Heard melodies are sweet but those unheard 
Are sweeter; therefore ye soft pipes play on; 
Not to the sensual ear but more endear'd  
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 
Fair youth beneath the trees thou canst not leave 15 
Thy song nor ever can those trees be bare; 
Bold Lover never never canst thou kiss  
Though winning near the goal¡ªyet do not grieve; 
She cannot fade though thou hast not thy bliss  
For ever wilt thou love and she be fair! 20 

Ah happy happy boughs! that cannot shed 
Your leaves nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
And happy melodist unweari¨¨d  
For ever piping songs for ever new; 
More happy love! more happy happy love! 25 
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd  
For ever panting and for ever young; 
All breathing human passion far above  
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd  
A burning forehead and a parching tongue.
30 Who are these coming to the sacrifice? To what green altar O mysterious priest Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? What little town by river or sea-shore 35 Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel Is emptied of its folk this pious morn? And little town thy streets for evermore Will silent be; and not a soul to tell Why thou art desolate can e'er return.
40 O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede Of marble men and maidens overwrought With forest branches and the trodden weed; Thou silent form! dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 45 When old age shall this generation waste Thou shalt remain in midst of other woe Than ours a friend to man to whom thou say'st 'Beauty is truth truth beauty ¡ªthat is all Ye know on earth and all ye need to know.
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Written by John Wilmot | Create an image from this poem

A Satyre Against Mankind

 Were I - who to my cost already am
One of those strange, prodigious creatures, man -
A spirit free to choose for my own share
What sort of flesh and blood I pleased to wear,
I'd be a dog, a monkey, or a bear,
Or anything but that vain animal,
Who is so proud of being rational.
His senses are too gross; and he'll contrive A sixth, to contradict the other five; And before certain instinct will prefer Reason, which fifty times for one does err.
Reason, an ignis fatuus of the mind, Which leaving light of nature, sense, behind, Pathless and dangerous wand'ring ways it takes, Through Error's fenny bogs and thorny brakes; Whilst the misguided follower climbs with pain Mountains of whimsey's, heaped in his own brain; Stumbling from thought to thought, falls headlong down, Into Doubt's boundless sea where, like to drown, Books bear him up awhile, and make him try To swim with bladders of Philosophy; In hopes still to o'ertake the escaping light; The vapour dances, in his dancing sight, Till spent, it leaves him to eternal night.
Then old age and experience, hand in hand, Lead him to death, make him to understand, After a search so painful, and so long, That all his life he has been in the wrong: Huddled In dirt the reasoning engine lies, Who was so proud, so witty, and so wise.
Pride drew him in, as cheats their bubbles catch, And made him venture; to be made a wretch.
His wisdom did has happiness destroy, Aiming to know that world he should enjoy; And Wit was his vain, frivolous pretence Of pleasing others, at his own expense.
For wits are treated just like common whores, First they're enjoyed, and then kicked out of doors; The pleasure past, a threatening doubt remains, That frights th' enjoyer with succeeding pains: Women and men of wit are dangerous tools, And ever fatal to admiring fools.
Pleasure allures, and when the fops escape, 'Tis not that they're beloved, but fortunate, And therefore what they fear, at heart they hate: But now, methinks some formal band and beard Takes me to task; come on sir, I'm prepared: "Then by your Favour, anything that's writ Against this jibing, jingling knack called Wit Likes me abundantly: but you take care Upon this point not to be too severe.
Perhaps my Muse were fitter for this part, For I profess I can be very smart On Wit, which I abhor with all my heart; I long to lash it in some sharp essay, But your grand indiscretion bids me stay, And turns my tide of ink another way.
What rage Torments in your degenerate mind, To make you rail at reason, and mankind Blessed glorious man! To whom alone kind heaven An everlasting soul hath freely given; Whom his great maker took such care to make, That from himself he did the image take; And this fair frame in shining reason dressed, To dignify his nature above beast.
Reason, by whose aspiring influence We take a flight beyond material sense, Dive into mysteries, then soaring pierce The flaming limits of the universe, Search heaven and hell, Find out what's acted there, And give the world true grounds of hope and fear.
" Hold mighty man, I cry, all this we know, From the pathetic pen of Ingelo; From Patrlck's Pilgrim, Sibbes' Soliloquies, And 'tis this very reason I despise, This supernatural gift that makes a mite Think he's an image of the infinite; Comparing his short life, void of all rest, To the eternal, and the ever-blessed.
This busy, pushing stirrer-up of doubt, That frames deep mysteries, then finds them out; Filling with frantic crowds of thinking fools The reverend bedlam's, colleges and schools; Borne on whose wings each heavy sot can pierce The limits of the boundless universe; So charming ointments make an old witch fly, And bear a crippled carcass through the sky.
'Tis the exalted power whose business lies In nonsense and impossibilities.
This made a whimsical philosopher Before the spacious world his tub prefer, And we have modern cloistered coxcombs, who Retire to think 'cause they have nought to do.
But thoughts are given for action's government; Where action ceases, thought's impertinent: Our sphere of action is life's happiness, And he that thinks beyond thinks like an ***.
Thus, whilst against false reasoning I inveigh.
I own right reason, which I would obey: That reason which distinguishes by sense, And gives us rules of good and ill from thence; That bounds desires.
with a reforming will To keep 'em more in vigour, not to kill.
- Your reason hinders, mine helps to enjoy, Renewing appetites yours would destroy.
My reason is my friend, yours is a cheat, Hunger calls out, my reason bids me eat; Perversely.
yours your appetite does mock: This asks for food, that answers, 'what's o'clock' This plain distinction, sir, your doubt secures, 'Tis not true reason I despise, but yours.
Thus I think reason righted, but for man, I'll ne'er recant, defend him if you can: For all his pride, and his philosophy, 'Tis evident: beasts are in their own degree As wise at least, and better far than he.
Those creatures are the wisest who attain.
- By surest means.
the ends at which they aim.
If therefore Jowler finds and kills the hares, Better than Meres supplies committee chairs; Though one's a statesman, th' other but a hound, Jowler in justice would be wiser found.
You see how far man's wisdom here extends.
Look next if human nature makes amends; Whose principles are most generous and just, - And to whose morals you would sooner trust: Be judge yourself, I'll bring it to the test, Which is the basest creature, man or beast Birds feed on birds, beasts on each other prey, But savage man alone does man betray: Pressed by necessity; they kill for food, Man undoes man, to do himself no good.
With teeth and claws, by nature armed, they hunt Nature's allowance, to supply their want.
But man, with smiles, embraces.
friendships.
Praise, Inhumanely his fellow's life betrays; With voluntary pains works his distress, Not through necessity, but wantonness.
For hunger or for love they bite, or tear, Whilst wretched man is still in arms for fear.
For fear he arms, and is of arms afraid: From fear, to fear, successively betrayed.
Base fear, the source whence his best passions came.
His boasted honour, and his dear-bought fame.
The lust of power, to whom he's such a slave, And for the which alone he dares be brave; To which his various projects are designed, Which makes him generous, affable, and kind.
For which he takes such pains to be thought wise, And screws his actions, in a forced disguise; Leads a most tedious life in misery, Under laborious, mean hypocrisy.
Look to the bottom of his vast design, Wherein man's wisdom, power, and glory join: The good he acts.
the ill he does endure.
'Tis all from fear, to make himself secure.
Merely for safety after fame they thirst, For all men would be cowards if they durst.
And honesty's against all common sense, Men must be knaves, 'tis in their own defence.
Mankind's dishonest: if you think it fair Among known cheats to play upon the square, You'll be undone.
Nor can weak truth your reputation save, The knaves will all agree to call you knave.
Wronged shall he live, insulted o'er, oppressed, Who dares be less a villain than the rest.
Thus sir, you see what human nature craves, Most men are cowards, all men should be knaves; The difference lies, as far as I can see.
Not in the thing itself, but the degree; And all the subject matter of debate Is only, who's a knave of the first rate All this with indignation have I hurled At the pretending part of the proud world, Who, swollen with selfish vanity, devise, False freedoms, holy cheats, and formal lies, Over their fellow slaves to tyrannise.
But if in Court so just a man there be, (In Court, a just man - yet unknown to me) Who does his needful flattery direct Not to oppress and ruin, but protect: Since flattery, which way soever laid, Is still a tax: on that unhappy trade.
If so upright a statesman you can find, Whose passions bend to his unbiased mind, Who does his arts and policies apply To raise his country, not his family; Nor while his pride owned avarice withstands, Receives close bribes, from friends corrupted hands.
Is there a churchman who on God relies Whose life, his faith and doctrine justifies Not one blown up, with vain prelatic pride, Who for reproofs of sins does man deride; Whose envious heart makes preaching a pretence With his obstreperous, saucy eloquence, To chide at kings, and rail at men of sense; Who from his pulpit vents more peevlsh lies, More bitter railings, scandals, calumnies, Than at a gossiping are thrown about When the good wives get drunk, and then fall out.
None of that sensual tribe, whose talents lie In avarice, pride, sloth, and gluttony.
Who hunt good livings; but abhor good lives, Whose lust exalted, to that height arrives, They act adultery with their own wives.
And ere a score of years completed be, Can from the loftiest pulpit proudly see, Half a large parish their own progeny.
Nor doting bishop, who would be adored For domineering at the Council board; A greater fop, in business at fourscore, Fonder of serious toys, affected more, Than the gay, glittering fool at twenty proves, With all his noise, his tawdry clothes and loves.
But a meek, humble man, of honest sense, Who preaching peace does practise continence; Whose pious life's a proof he does believe Mysterious truths which no man can conceive.
If upon Earth there dwell such god-like men, I'll here recant my paradox to them, Adores those shrines of virtue, homage pay, And with the rabble world their laws obey.
If such there are, yet grant me this at least, Man differs more from man than man from beast.
Written by Alan Seeger | Create an image from this poem

Paris

 First, London, for its myriads; for its height, 
Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite; 
But Paris for the smoothness of the paths 
That lead the heart unto the heart's delight.
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Fair loiterer on the threshold of those days When there's no lovelier prize the world displays Than, having beauty and your twenty years, You have the means to conquer and the ways, And coming where the crossroads separate And down each vista glories and wonders wait, Crowning each path with pinnacles so fair You know not which to choose, and hesitate -- Oh, go to Paris.
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In the midday gloom Of some old quarter take a little room That looks off over Paris and its towers From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor's Tomb, -- So high that you can hear a mating dove Croon down the chimney from the roof above, See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is To wake between Our Lady and our love.
And have a little balcony to bring Fair plants to fill with verdure and blossoming, That sparrows seek, to feed from pretty hands, And swallows circle over in the Spring.
There of an evening you shall sit at ease In the sweet month of flowering chestnut-trees, There with your little darling in your arms, Your pretty dark-eyed Manon or Louise.
And looking out over the domes and towers That chime the fleeting quarters and the hours, While the bright clouds banked eastward back of them Blush in the sunset, pink as hawthorn flowers, You cannot fail to think, as I have done, Some of life's ends attained, so you be one Who measures life's attainment by the hours That Joy has rescued from oblivion.
II Come out into the evening streets.
The green light lessens in the west.
The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats.
The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves: Come out under the lights and leaves to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain.
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Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant.
Shrill voices cry "L'Intransigeant," and corners echo "Paris-Sport.
" Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay, The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat.
And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards.
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But, having drunk and eaten well, 'tis pleasant then to stroll along And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel.
Here saunter types of every sort.
The shoddy jostle with the chic: Turk and Roumanian and Greek; student and officer and sport; Slavs with their peasant, Christ-like heads, and courtezans like powdered moths, And peddlers from Algiers, with cloths bright-hued and stitched with golden threads; And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties; And lovers wander two by two, oblivious among the press, And making one of them no less, all lovers shall be dear to you: All laughing lips you move among, all happy hearts that, knowing what Makes life worth while, have wasted not the sweet reprieve of being young.
"Comment ca va!" "Mon vieux!" "Mon cher!" Friends greet and banter as they pass.
'Tis sweet to see among the mass comrades and lovers everywhere, A law that's sane, a Love that's free, and men of every birth and blood Allied in one great brotherhood of Art and Joy and Poverty.
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The open cafe-windows frame loungers at their liqueurs and beer, And walking past them one can hear fragments of Tosca and Boheme.
And in the brilliant-lighted door of cinemas the barker calls, And lurid posters paint the walls with scenes of Love and crime and war.
But follow past the flaming lights, borne onward with the stream of feet, Where Bullier's further up the street is marvellous on Thursday nights.
Here all Bohemia flocks apace; you could not often find elsewhere So many happy heads and fair assembled in one time and place.
Under the glare and noise and heat the galaxy of dancing whirls, Smokers, with covered heads, and girls dressed in the costume of the street.
From tables packed around the wall the crowds that drink and frolic there Spin serpentines into the air far out over the reeking hall, That, settling where the coils unroll, tangle with pink and green and blue The crowds that rag to "Hitchy-koo" and boston to the "Barcarole".
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Here Mimi ventures, at fifteen, to make her debut in romance, And join her sisters in the dance and see the life that they have seen.
Her hair, a tight hat just allows to brush beneath the narrow brim, Docked, in the model's present whim, `frise' and banged above the brows.
Uncorseted, her clinging dress with every step and turn betrays, In pretty and provoking ways her adolescent loveliness, As guiding Gaby or Lucile she dances, emulating them In each disturbing stratagem and each lascivious appeal.
Each turn a challenge, every pose an invitation to compete, Along the maze of whirling feet the grave-eyed little wanton goes, And, flaunting all the hue that lies in childish cheeks and nubile waist, She passes, charmingly unchaste, illumining ignoble eyes.
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But now the blood from every heart leaps madder through abounding veins As first the fascinating strains of "El Irresistible" start.
Caught in the spell of pulsing sound, impatient elbows lift and yield The scented softnesses they shield to arms that catch and close them round, Surrender, swift to be possessed, the silken supple forms beneath To all the bliss the measures breathe and all the madness they suggest.
Crowds congregate and make a ring.
Four deep they stand and strain to see The tango in its ecstasy of glowing lives that clasp and cling.
Lithe limbs relaxed, exalted eyes fastened on vacancy, they seem To float upon the perfumed stream of some voluptuous Paradise, Or, rapt in some Arabian Night, to rock there, cradled and subdued, In a luxurious lassitude of rhythm and sensual delight.
And only when the measures cease and terminate the flowing dance They waken from their magic trance and join the cries that clamor "Bis!" .
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Midnight adjourns the festival.
The couples climb the crowded stair, And out into the warm night air go singing fragments of the ball.
Close-folded in desire they pass, or stop to drink and talk awhile In the cafes along the mile from Bullier's back to Montparnasse: The "Closerie" or "La Rotonde", where smoking, under lamplit trees, Sit Art's enamored devotees, chatting across their `brune' and `blonde'.
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Make one of them and come to know sweet Paris -- not as many do, Seeing but the folly of the few, the froth, the tinsel, and the show -- But taking some white proffered hand that from Earth's barren every day Can lead you by the shortest way into Love's florid fairyland.
And that divine enchanted life that lurks under Life's common guise -- That city of romance that lies within the City's toil and strife -- Shall, knocking, open to your hands, for Love is all its golden key, And one's name murmured tenderly the only magic it demands.
And when all else is gray and void in the vast gulf of memory, Green islands of delight shall be all blessed moments so enjoyed: When vaulted with the city skies, on its cathedral floors you stood, And, priest of a bright brotherhood, performed the mystic sacrifice, At Love's high altar fit to stand, with fire and incense aureoled, The celebrant in cloth of gold with Spring and Youth on either hand.
III Choral Song Have ye gazed on its grandeur Or stood where it stands With opal and amber Adorning the lands, And orcharded domes Of the hue of all flowers? Sweet melody roams Through its blossoming bowers, Sweet bells usher in from its belfries the train of the honey-sweet hour.
A city resplendent, Fulfilled of good things, On its ramparts are pendent The bucklers of kings.
Broad banners unfurled Are afloat in its air.
The lords of the world Look for harborage there.
None finds save he comes as a bridegroom, having roses and vine in his hair.
'Tis the city of Lovers, There many paths meet.
Blessed he above others, With faltering feet, Who past its proud spires Intends not nor hears The noise of its lyres Grow faint in his ears! Men reach it through portals of triumph, but leave through a postern of tears.
It was thither, ambitious, We came for Youth's right, When our lips yearned for kisses As moths for the light, When our souls cried for Love As for life-giving rain Wan leaves of the grove, Withered grass of the plain, And our flesh ached for Love-flesh beside it with bitter, intolerable pain.
Under arbor and trellis, Full of flutes, full of flowers, What mad fortunes befell us, What glad orgies were ours! In the days of our youth, In our festal attire, When the sweet flesh was smooth, When the swift blood was fire, And all Earth paid in orange and purple to pavilion the bed of Desire!
Written by Henry David Thoreau | Create an image from this poem

Inspiration

 Whate'er we leave to God, God does, 
And blesses us; 
The work we choose should be our own, 
God leaves alone.
If with light head erect I sing, Though all the Muses lend their force, From my poor love of anything, The verse is weak and shallow as its source.
But if with bended neck I grope Listening behind me for my wit, With faith superior to hope, More anxious to keep back than forward it; Making my soul accomplice there Unto the flame my heart hath lit, Then will the verse forever wear-- Time cannot bend the line which God hath writ.
Always the general show of things Floats in review before my mind, And such true love and reverence brings, That sometimes I forget that I am blind.
But now there comes unsought, unseen, Some clear divine electuary, And I, who had but sensual been, Grow sensible, and as God is, am wary.
I hearing get, who had but ears, And sight, who had but eyes before, I moments live, who lived but years, And truth discern, who knew but learning's lore.
I hear beyond the range of sound, I see beyond the range of sight, New earths and skies and seas around, And in my day the sun doth pale his light.
A clear and ancient harmony Pierces my soul through all its din, As through its utmost melody-- Farther behind than they, farther within.
More swift its bolt than lightning is, Its voice than thunder is more loud, It doth expand my privacies To all, and leave me single in the crowd.
It speaks with such authority, With so serene and lofty tone, That idle Time runs gadding by, And leaves me with Eternity alone.
Now chiefly is my natal hour, And only now my prime of life; Of manhood's strength it is the flower, 'Tis peace's end and war's beginning strife.
It comes in summer's broadest noon, By a grey wall or some chance place, Unseasoning Time, insulting June, And vexing day with its presuming face.
Such fragrance round my couch it makes, More rich than are Arabian drugs, That my soul scents its life and wakes The body up beneath its perfumed rugs.
Such is the Muse, the heavenly maid, The star that guides our mortal course, Which shows where life's true kernel's laid, Its wheat's fine flour, and its undying force.
She with one breath attunes the spheres, And also my poor human heart, With one impulse propels the years Around, and gives my throbbing pulse its start.
I will not doubt for evermore, Nor falter from a steadfast faith, For thought the system be turned o'er, God takes not back the word which once He saith.
I will not doubt the love untold Which not my worth nor want has bought, Which wooed me young, and woos me old, And to this evening hath me brought.
My memory I'll educate To know the one historic truth, Remembering to the latest date The only true and sole immortal youth.
Be but thy inspiration given, No matter through what danger sought, I'll fathom hell or climb to heaven, And yet esteem that cheap which love has bought.
___________________ Fame cannot tempt the bard Who's famous with his God, Nor laurel him reward Who has his Maker's nod.
Written by Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden | Create an image from this poem

September 1, 1939

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.
From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
Written by Anais Nin | Create an image from this poem

The Diary of Anaïs Nin Volume 1: 1931-1934

 "Am I, at bottom, that fervent little Spanish Catholic child who chastised herself for loving toys, who forbade herself the enjoyment of sweet foods, who practiced silence, who humiliated her pride, who adored symbols, statues, burning candles, incense, the caress of nuns, organ music, for whom Communion was a great event? I was so exalted by the idea of eating Jesus's flesh and drinking His blood that I couldn't swallow the host well, and I dreaded harming the it.
I visualized Christ descending into my heart so realistically (I was a realist then!) that I could see Him walking down the stairs and entering the room of my heart like a sacred Visitor.
That state of this room was a subject of great preoccupation for me.
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At the ages of nine, ten, eleven, I believe I approximated sainthood.
And then, at sixteen, resentful of controls, disillusioned with a God who had not granted my prayers (the return of my father), who performed no miracles, who left me fatherless in a strange country, I rejected all Catholicism with exaggeration.
Goodness, virtue, charity, submission, stifled me.
I took up the words of Lawrence: "They stress only pain, sacrifice, suffering and death.
They do not dwell enough on the resurrection, on joy and life in the present.
" Today I feel my past like an unbearable weight, I feel that it interferes with my present life, that it must be the cause for this withdrawal, this closing of doors.
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I am embalmed because a nun leaned over me, enveloped me in her veils, kissed me.
The chill curse of Christianity.
I do not confess any more, I have no remorse, yet am I doing penance for my enjoyments? Nobody knows what a magnificent prey I was for Christian legends, because of my compassion and my tenderness for human beings.
Today it divides me from enjoyment in life.
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70-71 "As June walked towards me from the darkness of the garden into the light of the door, I saw for the first time the most beautiful woman on earth.
A startling white face, burning dark eyes, a face so alive I felt it would consume itself before my eyes.
Years ago I tried to imagine true beauty; I created in my mind an image of just such a woman.
I had never seen her until last night.
Yet I knew long ago the phosphorescent color of her skin, her huntress profile, the evenness of her teeth.
She is bizarre, fantastic, nervous, like someone in a high fever.
Her beauty drowned me.
As I sat before her, I felt I would do anything she asked of me.
Henry suddenly faded.
She was color and brilliance and strangeness.
By the end of the evening I had extricated myself from her power.
She killed my admiration by her talk.
Her talk.
The enormous ego, false, weak, posturing.
She lacks the courage of her personality, which is sensual, heavy with experience.
Her role alone preoccupies her.
She invents dramas in which she always stars.
I am sure she creates genuine dramas, genuine chaos and whirlpools of feelings, but I feel that her share in it is a pose.
That night, in spite of my response to her, she sought to be whatever she felt I wanted her to be.
She is an actress every moment.
I cannot grasp the core of June.
Everything Henry has said about her is true.
" I wanted to run out and kiss her fanatastic beauty and say: 'June, you have killed my sincerity too.
I will never know again who I am, what I am, what I love, what I want.
Your beauty has drowned me, the core of me.
You carry away with you a part of me reflected in you.
When your beauty struck me, it dissolved me.
Deep down, I am not different from you.
I dreamed you, I wished for your existance.
You are the woman I want to be.
I see in you that part of me which is you.
I feel compassion for your childlike pride, for your trembling unsureness, your dramatization of events, your enhancing of the loves given to you.
I surrender my sincerity because if I love you it means we share the same fantasies, the same madnesses"


Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | Create an image from this poem

Four Quartets 1: Burnt Norton

 I

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory Down the passage which we did not take Towards the door we never opened Into the rose-garden.
My words echo Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves I do not know.
Other echoes Inhabit the garden.
Shall we follow? Quick, said the bird, find them, find them, Round the corner.
Through the first gate, Into our first world, shall we follow The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible, Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves, In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air, And the bird called, in response to The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery, And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern, Along the empty alley, into the box circle, To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged, And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight, And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly, The surface glittered out of heart of light, And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present.
II Garlic and sapphires in the mud Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood Sings below inveterate scars Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery The circulation of the lymph Are figured in the drift of stars Ascend to summer in the tree We move above the moving tree In light upon the figured leaf And hear upon the sodden floor Below, the boarhound and the boar Pursue their pattern as before But reconciled among the stars.
At the still point of the turning world.
Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement.
And do not call it fixity, Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire, The release from action and suffering, release from the inner And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving, Erhebung without motion, concentration Without elimination, both a new world And the old made explicit, understood In the completion of its partial ecstasy, The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future Woven in the weakness of the changing body, Protects mankind from heaven and damnation Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden, The moment in the arbour where the rain beat, The moment in the draughty church at smokefall Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.
III Here is a place of disaffection Time before and time after In a dim light: neither daylight Investing form with lucid stillness Turning shadow into transient beauty With slow rotation suggesting permanence Nor darkness to purify the soul Emptying the sensual with deprivation Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy.
Only a flicker Over the strained time-ridden faces Distracted from distraction by distraction Filled with fancies and empty of meaning Tumid apathy with no concentration Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind That blows before and after time, Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs Time before and time after.
Eructation of unhealthy souls Into the faded air, the torpid Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London, Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney, Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate.
Not here Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.
Descend lower, descend only Into the world of perpetual solitude, World not world, but that which is not world, Internal darkness, deprivation And destitution of all property, Desiccation of the world of sense, Evacuation of the world of fancy, Inoperancy of the world of spirit; This is the one way, and the other Is the same, not in movement But abstention from movement; while the world moves In appetency, on its metalled ways Of time past and time future.
IV Time and the bell have buried the day, The black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray Clutch and cling? Chill Fingers of yew be curled Down on us? After the kingfisher's wing Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still At the still point of the turning world.
V Words move, music moves Only in time; but that which is only living Can only die.
Words, after speech, reach Into the silence.
Only by the form, the pattern, Can words or music reach The stillness, as a Chinese jar still Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts, Not that only, but the co-existence, Or say that the end precedes the beginning, And the end and the beginning were always there Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now.
Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, Will not stay still.
Shrieking voices Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering, Always assail them.
The Word in the desert Is most attacked by voices of temptation, The crying shadow in the funeral dance, The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.
The detail of the pattern is movement, As in the figure of the ten stairs.
Desire itself is movement Not in itself desirable; Love is itself unmoving, Only the cause and end of movement, Timeless, and undesiring Except in the aspect of time Caught in the form of limitation Between un-being and being.
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight Even while the dust moves There rises the hidden laughter Of children in the foliage Quick now, here, now, always— Ridiculous the waste sad time Stretching before and after.
Written by Larry Levis | Create an image from this poem

The Widening Spell Of Leaves

 --The Carpathian Frontier, October, 1968
 --for my brother

Once, in a foreign country, I was suddenly ill.
I was driving south toward a large city famous For so little it had a replica, in concrete, In two-thirds scale, of the Arc de Triomphe stuck In the midst of traffic, & obstructing it.
But the city was hours away, beyond the hills Shaped like the bodies of sleeping women.
Often I had to slow down for herds of goats Or cattle milling on those narrow roads, & for The narrower, lost, stone streets of villages I passed through.
The pains in my stomach had grown Gradually sharper & more frequent as the day Wore on, & now a fever had set up house.
In the villages there wasn't much point in asking Anyone for help.
In those places, where tanks Were bivouacked in shade on their way back From some routine exercise along The Danube, even food was scarce that year.
And the languages shifted for no clear reason From two hard quarries of Slavic into German, Then to a shred of Latin spliced with oohs And hisses.
Even when I tried the simplest phrases, The peasants passing over those uneven stones Paused just long enough to look up once, Uncomprehendingly.
Then they turned Quickly away, vanishing quietly into that Moment, like bark chips whirled downriver.
It was autumn.
Beyond each village the wind Threw gusts of yellowing leaves across the road.
The goats I passed were thin, gray; their hind legs, Caked with dried ****, seesawed along-- Not even mild contempt in their expressionless, Pale eyes, & their brays like the scraping of metal.
Except for one village that had a kind Of museum where I stopped to rest, & saw A dead Scythian soldier under glass, Turning to dust while holding a small sword At attention forever, there wasn't much to look at.
Wind, leaves, goats, the higher passes Locked in stone, the peasants with their fate Embroidering a stillness into them, And a spell over all things in that landscape, Like .
.
.
That was the trouble; it couldn't be Compared to anything else, not even the sleep Of some asylum at a wood's edge with the sound Of a pond's spillway beside it.
But as each cramp Grew worse & lasted longer than the one before, It was hard to keep myself aloof from the threadbare World walking on that road.
After all, Even as they moved, the peasants, the herds of goats And cattle, the spiralling leaves, at least were part Of that spell, that stillness.
After a while, The villages grew even poorer, then thinned out, Then vanished entirely.
An hour later, There were no longer even the goats, only wind, Then more & more leaves blown over the road, sometimes Covering it completely for a second.
And yet, except for a random oak or some brush Writhing out of the ravine I drove beside, The trees had thinned into rock, into large, Tough blonde rosettes of fading pasture grass.
Then that gave out in a bare plateau.
.
.
.
And then, Easing the Dacia down a winding grade In second gear, rounding a long, funneled curve-- In a complete stillness of yellow leaves filling A wide field--like something thoughtlessly, Mistakenly erased, the road simply ended.
I stopped the car.
There was no wind now.
I expected that, & though I was sick & lost, I wasn't afraid.
I should have been afraid.
To this day I don't know why I wasn't.
I could hear time cease, the field quietly widen.
I could feel the spreading stillness of the place Moving like something I'd witnessed as a child, Like the ancient, armored leisure of some reptile Gliding, gray-yellow, into the slightly tepid, Unidentical gray-brown stillness of the water-- Something blank & unresponsive in its tough, Pimpled skin--seen only a moment, then unseen As it submerged to rest on mud, or glided just Beneath the lustreless, calm yellow leaves That clustered along a log, or floated there In broken ringlets, held by a gray froth On the opaque, unbroken surface of the pond, Which reflected nothing, no one.
And then I remembered.
When I was a child, our neighbors would disappear.
And there wasn't a pond of crocodiles at all.
And they hadn't moved.
They couldn't move.
They Lived in the small, fenced-off backwater Of a canal.
I'd never seen them alive.
They Were in still photographs taken on the Ivory Coast.
I saw them only once in a studio when I was a child in a city I once loved.
I was afraid until our neighbor, a photographer, Explained it all to me, explained how far Away they were, how harmless; how they were praised In rituals as "powers.
" But they had no "powers," He said.
The next week he vanished.
I thought Someone had cast a spell & that the crocodiles Swam out of the pictures on the wall & grew Silently & multiplied & then turned into Shadows resting on the banks of lakes & streams Or took the shapes of fallen logs in campgrounds In the mountains.
They ate our neighbor, Mr.
Hirata.
They ate his whole family.
That is what I believed, Then.
.
.
that someone had cast a spell.
I did not Know childhood was a spell, or that then there Had been another spell, too quiet to hear, Entering my city, entering the dust we ate.
.
.
.
No one knew it then.
No one could see it, Though it spread through lawnless miles of housing tracts, And the new, bare, treeless streets; it slipped Into the vacant rows of warehouses & picked The padlocked doors of working-class bars And union halls & shuttered, empty diners.
And how it clung! (forever, if one had noticed) To the brothel with the pastel tassels on the shade Of an unlit table lamp.
Farther in, it feasted On the decaying light of failing shopping centers; It spilled into the older, tree-lined neighborhoods, Into warm houses, sealing itself into books Of bedtime stories read each night by fathers-- The books lying open to the flat, neglected Light of dawn; & it settled like dust on windowsills Downtown, filling the smug cafés, schools, Banks, offices, taverns, gymnasiums, hotels, Newsstands, courtrooms, opium parlors, Basque Restaurants, Armenian steam baths, French bakeries, & two of the florists' shops-- Their plate glass windows smashed forever.
Finally it tried to infiltrate the exact Center of my city, a small square bordered With palm trees, olives, cypresses, a square Where no one gathered, not even thieves or lovers.
It was a place which no longer had any purpose, But held itself aloof, I thought, the way A deaf aunt might, from opinions, styles, gossip.
I liked it there.
It was completely lifeless, Sad & clear in what seemed always a perfect, Windless noon.
I saw it first as a child, Looking down at it from that as yet Unvandalized, makeshift studio.
I remember leaning my right cheek against A striped beach ball so that Mr.
Hirata-- Who was Japanese, who would be sent the next week To a place called Manzanar, a detention camp Hidden in stunted pines almost above The Sierra timberline--could take my picture.
I remember the way he lovingly relished Each camera angle, the unwobbling tripod, The way he checked each aperture against The light meter, in love with all things That were not accidental, & I remember The care he took when focusing; how He tried two different lens filters before He found the one appropriate for that Sensual, late, slow blush of afternoon Falling through the one broad bay window.
I remember holding still & looking down Into the square because he asked me to; Because my mother & father had asked me please To obey & be patient & allow the man-- Whose business was failing anyway by then-- To work as long as he wished to without any Irritations or annoyances before He would have to spend these years, my father said, Far away, in snow, & without his cameras.
But Mr.
Hirata did not work.
He played.
His toys gleamed there.
That much was clear to me .
.
.
.
That was the day I decided I would never work.
It felt like a conversion.
Play was sacred.
My father waited behind us on a sofa made From car seats.
One spring kept nosing through.
I remember the camera opening into the light .
.
.
.
And I remember the dark after, the studio closed, The cameras stolen, slivers of glass from the smashed Bay window littering the unsanded floors, And the square below it bathed in sunlight .
.
.
.
All this Before Mr.
Hirata died, months later, From complications following pneumonia.
His death, a letter from a camp official said, Was purely accidental.
I didn't believe it.
Diseases were wise.
Diseases, like the polio My sister had endured, floating paralyzed And strapped into her wheelchair all through That war, seemed too precise.
Like photographs .
.
.
Except disease left nothing.
Disease was like And equation that drank up light & never ended, Not even in summer.
Before my fever broke, And the pains lessened, I could actually see Myself, in the exact center of that square.
How still it had become in my absence, & how Immaculate, windless, sunlit.
I could see The outline of every leaf on the nearest tree, See it more clearly than ever, more clearly than I had seen anything before in my whole life: Against the modest, dark gray, solemn trunk, The leaves were becoming only what they had to be-- Calm, yellow, things in themselves & nothing More--& frankly they were nothing in themselves, Nothing except their little reassurance Of persisting for a few more days, or returning The year after, & the year after that, & every Year following--estranged from us by now--& clear, So clear not one in a thousand trembled; hushed And always coming back--steadfast, orderly, Taciturn, oblivious--until the end of Time.
Written by Constantine P Cavafy | Create an image from this poem

Ithaka

 As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops, angry Poseidon-don't be afraid of them: you'll never find things like that on your way as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, as long as a rare excitement stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops, wild Poseidon-you won't encounter them unless you bring them along inside your soul, unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when, with what pleasure, what joy, you enter harbors you're seeing for the first time; may you stop at Phoenician trading stations to buy fine things, mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony, sensual perfume of every kind- as many sensual perfumes as you can; and may you visit many Egyptian cities to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years, so you're old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you've gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
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